Secret Agent: A new eco-drive bans us fromposting details – which proves all the previous mail was junk’

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The Independent Online

When it comes to good marketing ideas, or, indeed, any marketing ideas, estate agents are like teenagers with homework: they find it so much easier to copy other people's. Therefore, in a blatant appropriation of one agency's new green campaign never to send any more snail-mail (which surely just highlights the fact that everything they've previously sent has been a load of rubbish), head office set an "Eco Day". A prize was to be awarded to the negotiator deemed to have made the most effort to be environmentally friendly. It was clear from the outset that this prize should really have gone to Gavin.

"Oh God!" Kelly squealed, as the rodent scuttled in. "Gav's had a perm." First impressions certainly suggested this was the case, until he explained that, in the interests of the planet, he'd abstained from using a hairdryer. The Portuguese-water-dog look was the unfortunate consequence of letting it dry naturally. Also in the interests of the planet, but not his colleagues, he'd eschewed his aerosol deodorant.

"I hope you had a locally produced egg for breakfast, lad," my manager chortled, devouring a bacon sandwich that looked as though it had flown several times round the world on easyJet. "And saved your shower water for your tea!"

Gavin shook his head, guiltily. "I had Rice Krispies. But I didn't flush the toilet!"

"Nice one," my manager replied, hopefully not inspired to do the same. "Now, how about the rest of you?"

Like any head-office ploy to dress work up as "fun", my immediate reaction is to point out that we are not five-year-olds, before stamping my feet and refusing to play. But for the benefit of my own energy conservation, I just muttered something about avoiding using the printer, and carried on emailing my friend. Kelly, meanwhile, was busily making a compost bin for the outside stairwell, known very euphemistically as the "garden". She claimed that it was for our tea bags, but was clearly just an excuse to smoke then hide her not particularly eco fag. And Justin, insisting on walking to all his appointments, was sweating so much that what he was saving in carbon emissions, he was more than making up for in a contribution to global warming.

"Who won?" he said, the following day, trying not to appear as desperately hopeful as Gavin.

"Some bird from the City branch," my manager replied, dismissively. "Got a whole load of those energy-saving light bulbs on the cheap. Enough for every office."

A hushed awe swept over the room, proving that it actually takes one estate agent to change a light bulb and 376 not to have thought of such a bright idea.

"And you'll never guess what she has won," he continued, incredulous. Gavin looked like he might try. "A day's rally driving!"

Everyone gasped at what I presumed to be the sheer irony of it all, until Justin exploded: "But she's a girl!"

My manager sighed. "Exactly!"

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